The 3 characteristics sutta

Found in the Pali Vinaya, Mahàvagga, 1st Khandhaka

Transl. Bodhangkur Mahathero

 

 

Note: The Buddha remained silent on the notion of atta, translated wrongly into English as ‘SELF’. Hence no one knows what he actually meant when he used the word.

 

The Bhagavat said:

“Bhikkhus, consciousness not SELF. Were consciousness SELF, consciousness would not deteriorate (i.e. change), and one could have it of consciousness: ‘My consciousness this, my consciousness not this.’

And since consciousness not SELF, so it leads to deterioration, and none can have it of consciousness: ‘My consciousness this, my consciousness not this’.”

 

“Bhikkhus, feeling not SELF …(repeat above).”

“Bhikkhus, perception not SELF …(repeat above).”

“Bhikkhus, formation not SELF …(repeat above).

“Bhikkhus, material form not SELF …(repeat above).”

 

 

“Bhikkhus, how do you conceive it:”

“Is consciousness permanent or transient? ” 

“Transient, Sir.”

“Now is what is transient distressing or not distressing?”

“Distressing, Sir.”

“And that which is transient, distressing, changing according to the law, is it clever to see it as: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my SELF?’”

“No, Sir.” 

 

“Is feeling permanent or transient? …(repeat above).”

“Is perception permanent or inconstant? …(repeat above).”

“Is formation permanent or inconstant? …(repeat above).”

“Is material form permanent or transient? …(repeat above).”

 

“So, bhikkhus whatever consciousness, whether past, future or presently arisen, whether gross or subtle, whether in oneself or external, whether inferior or superior, whether far or near, must with right understanding be regarded as it is: ‘This not mine, this not I am, this not my SELF.’ ”

 

“Whatever feeling … (repeat above).”

“Whatever perception …(repeat above).”

“Whatever formation …(repeat above).”

“Whatever material form, whether past, future or presently arisen, whether gross or subtle, whether in oneself or external, whether inferior or superior, whether far or near, must with right understanding be regarded as it is: ‘This not mine, this not I am, this not my SELF’. ”

 

“Bhikkhus, when an Aryan learned hearer sees thus, he finds disgust in consciousness, he finds disgust in sensation, he finds disgust in perception, he finds disgust in formation, he finds disgust in material form. When he finds disgust, passion fades out. With the fading of passion, he is liberated. When liberated, there is knowledge that he is liberated. He discerns: ‘Birth is exhausted, the pure life is completed, the deed is done, there is no further return to this.’”

 

That is what the Bhagavat said. The bhikkhus were glad, and they approved his words. Now during this utterance, the minds of the bhikkhus of the group of five were, by not clinging, liberated from the intoxicants.

 

And there were then six worthies in the world.

 

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